What Patience Jonathan Owes Nigerians By Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe
Okey Ndibe

Last year, Nigeria’s First Lady Patience Jonathan spent six weeks in a Germany hospital receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment. Nigerians footed the bill for her treatment, but neither her office nor that of her husband considered us deserving of the slightest bit of truth-telling. It took the effort of enterprising online reporters to inform Nigerians that their president’s wife was sick, and that she was undergoing treatment in far-away Germany.


Even so, her spokesman countered – in a facile response – that Mrs. Jonathan was a picture of buoyant health. She’d traveled back, he said, to rest after the fatigue of hosting a meeting of African First Ladies in Abuja. Of course, the irony of the claim didn’t strike the fibbing spokesman. If the spouse of Nigeria’s president does not find Aso Rock – the most palatial address in Nigeria – conducive to resting, then the country her husband runs must be pure hell for other (by far less fortunate) Nigerians.  


During Mrs. Jonathan’s absence, I came to find out how patient and forgiving Nigerians can be. On Facebook, twitter and other online forums, many wrote that they were praying for their ailing First Lady. Amazed by such gush of generosity, I wrote column calling on Mrs. Jonathan, once she recovered and returned to Nigeria, to repay the love nudging her husband to become a responsive, public-spirited leader. I suggested, for one, that she must impress on Mr. Jonathan that he has a duty to give Nigerians a healthcare system that’s worthy of humans. 


It’s a scandal that Nigerian officials (as well as the broader class of the well-to-do) now troop to the UK, France, Germany, South Africa, India and the US for medical treatment. Part of the scandal lies in the fact that Nigerians are some of the top doctors in any field of medicine. Given a visionary leader committed to transformation – as opposed to a poseur who likes to fancy himself a transformational figure – many of these doctors will need little prodding to come home and set up practices. But no: most of our so-called leaders are deaf to the shame of running a country that has no coherent health policy. 


Consider this: Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s most revered persons. Yet, whenever he takes ill, he’s treated in South African hospitals by South African doctors. He’s not flown abroad with the kind of fanfare that Nigerian officials organize, a fanfare that advertises Nigeria as a failed, forlorn state. Consider this, too: when former Ghanaian President John Atta-Mills battled a serious ailment, he stayed and was treated in Ghana. Yes, he died in the end – as all must die – but he made the point that he had confidence in his country’s medical institution. By contrast, no Nigerian official wants to be caught dead or alive in a Nigerian hospital! They know how dismal Nigerian healthcare is; they know because, in the final reckoning, they had a hand in gutting the system. 


I’m the first to admit that I had no reason to expect that Mrs. Jonathan would rise to my lofty challenge, but I issued it all the same. As Nigerians, we had paid to enable her to receive the best possible treatment from fine German doctors in a hospital with sophisticated diagnostic equipment. At minimum, she owed it to us to become an advocate for a significantly improved healthcare in Nigeria.


It’s since become clear that Mrs. Jonathan is preoccupied with other plans and priorities. Nigerians were stunned to learn that the Federal Capital Territory has asked for N4 billion to construct a huge building for Mrs. Jonathan in Abuja. There’s no way to euphemize it: the idea is wacky. 


It’s astonishing that the president, his wife and a bevy of officials around them would allow this project to go beyond conception and make its way into the FCT’s budget proposals. Does it mean that nobody within that circle has the sense to recognize an outrage? In a country where many workers are yet to receive the minimum monthly wage of N18,000; where roads are a shambles; where hospitals are a mockery; where universities and polytechnics are bereft of equipment and research funds; where generators snarl and rattle because electric power is erratic; where cities have no trash disposal systems; where police training schools are in squalid shape; where many adults are so crushed by hardship they declare their own children witches and wizards – in such a country, how did the ensemble at Aso Rock permit the impunity of a N4 billion building for Mrs. Jonathan to see the light of day? Pray, how? 


Such a project makes sense only to that insouciant coterie that inhabits the rooms and corridors of power.  It’s not enough insult to our sensibility that Mr. Jonathan is spending N2 billion to build a larger banquet hall for his feasts. It’s not enough outrage that billions more has been allocated to build an even grander residence for the Vice President – who already lives in one of the grandest homes in Abuja. Now, the First Lady – just recently rescued from sickness by the collective wealth of Nigerians – must add to the list of outrages a project that amplifies a vulgar, self-aggrandizing taste. 


Last year, Mr. Jonathan and his ministers ramped up the message that Nigeria was virtually broke and that the government could no longer afford subsidizing the cost of fuel. Did the president not dial the same message of economic scarcity to his wife? For that matter, did he not internalize the message himself? Why do poor, misgoverned Nigerians get one message of dire economic times but the nation’s spoilt, mediocre officials act in a way that suggests the country has a slush of cash – the only problem being how to spend the damn thing? 


How does the First Lady’s N4 billion fantasy “mission house” advance the healthcare of Nigerians? How does it add to the quality of life of a people trapped in conditions that should not exist in the 21st century? The people of the Niger Delta –President Jonathan’s home zone – decry the slow progress in rehabilitating the all-too important East-West Road. Instead of focusing on such people-oriented projects, why does the present administration set its sights on decidedly wasteful, useless projects that merely inflate the egos of a few?  


It’s time those closest to Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan told them a few home truths. The country’s first citizens ought to be told that power is transient. Nobody is assessed a great leader on the basis of acts that served his – and/or his wife’s – fantasies of grandeur. If Mrs. Jonathan is incapable of realizing how offensive her immoderate N4 billion project is, somebody around her should rise to the occasion and do her the favor of spelling it out. 


We don’t owe her a N4 billion house; she owes us to be a voice whispering an insistent message into her husband’s ears: Let’s serve, rather than be the served. 


Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe


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Ngugi's Wizard of the Crow: a review of the FL's Project

Well appreciated sir, Excerpts from the the novel which describes the FL's project aptly "quotes n emphasis: Very early in the novel, we are presented with an intensely nebulous, ambiguous, confused and shadowy project characterized. ‘Marching to Heaven’, the purpose of which is
To erect a building such as has never been attempted in history except once by the children of Israel and even then they had failed miserably to complete the house of Babel. Aburiria would now do what the Israelites could not do; raise a building to the gates of Heaven, so the ruler could call on God daily to say good morning or simply how was your day today, God? The ruler would be the daily recipient of God’s advice, resulting in a rapid growth of Aburiria to height never before dreamt by humans. (16)
‘Marching to Haven’ doubtlessly represents one of the greatest cases of gross misplacement of priorities ever seen in the African novel.

Leadership accords privileges but also demands responsibility!

A unique governance?
1. Ayo Osinlu said. “If you look at her itinerary in August, you would be wondering how she was able to accomplish that. In the course of this week, she will be back home...,”


Reuben Abati insisted Mrs Jonathan’s illness "was a rumour and there is nothing like that".

More Lies!

2. Majority of Nigerians cannot afford a meal, no access to safe and drinkable water, education in shambles, health care in tatters, yet Patience DID NOT SEE FIT to organize a quiet family thanksgiving? Instead she spends this stupendous amount of money? Has she learnt any lessons?

Patience “God has given me a second chance, to come and work with the women of Nigeria, the children and the less privileged. I have come to serve Nigeria. I have come to work with Nigerians. I am there for them.”

Any more Lies? We shall watch her closely.

Again, let Dame Patie convert the "Mission House" to a hospital!

Dianyi Okey, you have said it all. Your piece mirrors my views yesterday when the news broke about the N500 million Thanksgiving party by Dame Patie. There is no gainsaying the N4 billion could be better utilized in establishing a tertiary or super specialty hospital in Yenogoa or at Abuja knowing her recent health circumstances.

However, what is now apparent is that her "Mission House" is an avenue at aggrandizement and no more. In the end, only about N1 billion would have been expended for the "project" that will never be completed while the rest of the money is pocketed. Dame Patie has no agenda at positively affecting even her son's life not to talk about the women of Bayelsa State, nay Nigeria. Look at how bloated her only son is? She thinks being obese is a display of financial contentment. That's what we call co-mingling of illiteracy, stupidity and idiocy!

I don't believe that a

I don't believe that a Nigerian in his right mind will raise any objection to what Okey Ndibe wrote here. No wonder you wrote as Anonymous. Let us know your real name. What a shame!


When the likes of DERI,OTILE and other GEJ boot lickers who are "sicko",lunatics,and demented based on their moronic comments on issues affecting millions on Nigerian,including their families and themselves.I wondered what their state of mind is......Are these people mentally okay at all ? We all continue to be cowards,and pathetics losers,I do not really cared again.We kept on whining everyday about the state of this failed country without doing anything about it.Until we all rised up and take a radical steps,the few elites will continue to treat us as SLAVES in our own country !....This is not a tribal issue,this is a COMMON SENSE issue.Until we take a radical steps to free ourselves,NIGERIA,and indeed NIGERIAN will never RISE UP !.


Okey Ndibe shame on you.
9 health workers are killed - no comment from Okey Ndibe
3 foreign doctors are slaughtered like ram - no comment from Okey Ndibe.
Lamido Sanusi gives our money to boko haram - no comment from Okey Ndibe.
But let Patience Jonathan drink water and this lame man will run his mouth like okro soup. My man, get a life.

And in your idiotic mind, you

And in your idiotic mind, you think some Commercial Complex akin to what is in the UK is what is needed at the moment right?
Clearly, some fools have decided to fill this page with a barrage of responses that suggests Nigerians are in support of this foolish idea.....
Does the first lady build a Mission House simply because she's been made the Chair-lady of some nondescript association of African First Ladies? Are we implying that Nigeria build the AU Secretariat on account of President Jonathan being the AU Chairman?... Morons!

Oh Shutup please....!!

This clown Deri needs to tell the world who initiated the edifice.... If GEJ couldn't do nothing on account of his being Ijaw then he may do well to think of becoming the strongest Amanayabo of the Ijaw nation..... He couldn't sit at the Rock and act like some dumb ass while pretending to be Nigeria's president.... Never seen such clueless folk....

Oh Please Spare Me Joo....

And those of you, Bulldogs who attack everybody and everyone on account of GEJ should be honest to yourselves.... Like Okey asked, how does the building of "Mission House" advance the cause of healthcare in Nigeria??.... Thankfully, this House will be sited in Abuja and i don't see how those women living in creeks will have access to it, least of all, utilize it...... And when those two imbeciles, Jonathan and Patience are done, wobbling and fumbling, let's hear some morons come here to complain about his government's inability to complete the East-West road. Nonesense!!

No crusader is ever respect by his kins

Okey is a great mind and I dare compare his rich contributions to that of Soyinka and Achebe. This Deri guy is a big mischieve-maker. He sounds shallow to me. Can someone please tell him to stop talking about Chieftaincy and sponsored parties which cronies of GEJ use to show appreciation for money they stole in the name of contract. The likes of Deri will write the first set of stinker when GEJ leaves office. Like I said b/4, I will watch GEJ when the northerners go for his balls. They wont miss it, trust me.


The disrespect and contempt displayed by our First Lady on the day of her arrival from that German hospital is unforgettable.She looked us in the eye and lied to every Nigerian about her absence,we are too lowly in her eyes despite the fact that we footed the bills of the obviously first class expensive medical trip,she did not find it necessary to show gratitude instead she abused our hospitality in a most cruel manner.
Well the deed is done and most Nigerians are aware of the disdainful disposition of the First Lady,we are mere statistics in her eyes despite the Prayers and messages of quick recovery over-flowing all the print and electronic media.The First family just expended half a billion Naira in "thanksgiving" and invited their close friends,the wealthy and connected.The First Lady found this looting class of Nigerians worthy of knowing the truth so she accepted the obvious,she had several operations in a month and resurrected after 7 days,WE DEMAND RESPECT AND AN APOLOGY.


The disrespect and contempt displayed by our First Lady on the day of her arrival from that German hospital is unforgettable.She looked us in the eye and lied to every Nigerian about her absence,we are too lowly in her eyes despite the fact that we footed the bills of the obviously first class expensive medical trip,she did not find it necessary to show gratitude instead she abused our hospitality in a most cruel manner.
Well the deed is done and most Nigerians are aware of the disdainful disposition of the First Lady,we are mere statistics in her eyes despite the Prayers and messages of quick recovery over-flowing all the print and electronic media.The First family just expended half a billion Naira in "thanksgiving" and invited their close friends,the wealthy and connected.The First Lady found this looting class of Nigerians worthy of knowing the truth so she accepted the obvious,she had several operations in a month and resurrected after 7 days,WE DEMAND RESPECT AND AN APOLOGY.

Many Educated illitrates in Nigeria

The problem is there are many educated
illiterates in Nigeria.@Micheal so having
read the article,all you could deduce was
tagging it a "blackmail" . I weep for dis
country cos there so many like minds like
Out there and definitely u account for the
minute population that feeds from the
"Crumbs" coming out of the table of
corruption in Nigeria.

@ Prof. Okay Ndibe : "Greed" Answers All Your Why's !

@ Okay Ndibe:
My guess is you penned this article before the serious Owambe of last weekend had Abuja in a lockdown. Even the Bokos bow! To your rakings add that the Presidency paid for her Thanksgiving parley with "well wishers" who raised a whopping N500 million for her to continue her works for the "needy" that has so far cost us N4 Billion. But he real cost of that perverse fantasy is over N5 Billion if you add Turai's Settlement. The "tragedy-in-progress" -as you called it in previous works- is incapable of "internalizing" the pains of the poor with a feeding budget of N1 Billion and expansion plans for a banquet hall that sat over 5000 guests! A painful crowd that included Cardinals and Clowns in a Show of Shame during Lenten period. Same Nigerians that were abusing SaharaReporters for "mebo-mebo" reporting of her medical excesses are now Thanking God she "Resurrected" after Nine Days of Death. True Fools!

Mrs J's N4b House

Gentle men & ladies, this is utterly ridiculous. What would it take for somebody, anybody in the ruling elite in that God forsaken Nation to use their brain? Does anyone ever think of what the Germans, French, Indians, South Africans, and Americans think of us when our leaders flock their hospitals for routine, and sometimes not-so-routine medical care? What a shame!! The N4b Mrs J is requesting for her Abuja Mansion will build and equipt a decent Heart Hospital...that way the next time her husband, herself, their friends, the Miniters, and the State Governors have a cardiac related ailment, they will go there, and save the cost of flying to Germany, etc. But then on a second thought, the resources they squander is stolen money from our national tressury. So they are not worried about wasteful spending! God where are you?

owes 9ja nothing after stealing her 55 trillion-she gave u afcon

ather than have an open and intelligent conversation on national issues, all the rats and lizards indulge in is to cast aspersions on the president and his family-those in attendance are not the movers and shakers of the economy in ijaw land- John Kennedy Okpara who raised over 500m from the oil resource base of the SS, is not Ijaw! He is Ibo! Its unbelievable to see 9jas often act like some refugees from Mali and Chad-when discussing gej-the saddest aspect of the the whole mess is that GEJ being a political toddler, often allows himself to be lured by these same regionalist into dancing to their tune-since the Okah incident in abuja! Happily I read most of d stories on this event-it was only SR which sounded different! Tinubu spent billions on his birthday bash-None of the regionalist here spoke ill of him-including the fake anti corruption czar Dino who graced the occasion with his gal friend! But u see them sound like a broken gramophone record when it concerns GEJ and his wife!

Okey, if you are not as

Okey, if you are not as mischievous as the guys you despise, why not show the slightest possible evidence that the so-called first lady mission house is a property of Patience Jonathan?

In your own words, east-west road has a contractor working on it - though 'slow'! If a project has been awarded to a contractor, what else do you want a government to do? Kill the contractor or go to the site and set the concrete??

You don't need to be told that there would be some sort of policy in the Nigerian health industry. It takes few dishonenst people like you to make the place what it is...

I expect you to return back to Nigeria and contest for the smallest possible office. Maybe that will stop your daydreaming!

b4 late Mills was Nkrumah who built Korle-Bu hospital in ghana

Okey, see if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech, thought or your writings, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the oil based economy of 9ja. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness. For the said edifice by FCT, was NOT initiated by the 1st lady! If u are offered a chieftancy title by the Oba of Benin, the sultan of sokoto, or the Obi of Onitsha do you reject it because the ijaw nation has no Amayanabo of note? like the Maharajas I mentioned above? Who shook hands with the brits in 1914-? Nigeria is over 52 yrs old-if our leaders had started the way d SA did-GEJ would not have been troubled by it-Zumah is not being asked to erect hospitals-or provide street light for his ppl-B4 Mills was Nkrumah-where was OUR Nkrumah in 1957 in 9JA?


meant to say:

serves you right: you Naijaans ???

but since you claimed that germany will soon be annexed as Naija's 37th state ...

must tell Mrs. Merkel, though !

Thanks Prof


true frienn

da Prof-you-know !!!


What we have in Nigeria is a corrupt junk that obtained his Phd. through bribery and is bribing everyone to support his rascality. It is government which is heavily drunk and lost in the darkness of nothingness but being loved and protected by cheap sycophantic maggots whose food is always in squalor.

First Lady has no business with N4b FCT Commercial development

How is the Peace Mission house different from other investment complexes in Abuja which are developed by the FCT Admin? Is it not likely to redeem its development cost in just a few years given the high rental demand and premiums in Abuja? In any case , apart from the name what is the business of Mrs Jonathan with a 100% commercial government owned investment property similar to a council complex in the U.K? Please stop blackmailing the First Lady, the woman deserves some peace.

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